A PREGNANT woman whose partner was murdered by a crazed crossbow killer has revealed she only survived because the killer left her for dead.
Laura Sugden, then aged 22, found herself in a life-or-death struggle with Tony Lawrence as her lover Shane Gilmer lay dying beside her.
Butcher’s son and former Territorial Army squaddie Lawrence, 55, who owned a number of crossbows, had broken into the couple’s home through the loft.
He was lying in wait when they returned to their home in the sleepy village of Southburn, near Driffield, East Yorkshire, after a romantic night out on January 12, 2018.
When Laura found him in her daughter’s bedroom with the crossbow, housing officer and dad of two Shane, 30, charged upstairs to rescue her.
Lawrence shot Shane in the side, fatally wounding him, and then shot local government worker Laura in the head.
She told an inquest: “I had to really pull hard with both hands to get the arrow out. It really hurt. I felt dizzy. Blood was dripping.”
As she pulled the bolt out, Lawrence pushed her to the floor.
Laura continued: “I was lying on my back. Tony was on top of me.
“He was trying to push the arrow into my throat.
“I wrestled with him. I knew if it went into my throat I would die instantly.”
PLEAS TO STOP
The inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court heard Lawrence continued the murderous attack even after Laura pleaded for the life of her unborn child.
All seemed lost before suddenly he stopped.
She said: “He let go. He loosened his grip.
“He must have thought he had done what he needed to do and I was going to die.
“He was still saying I was not leaving until I was f***ing dead.”
When Lawrence left the room, a dying Shane begged Laura to flee.
She added: “Shane said he loved me and wanted me and the baby to be okay.
“I thought it was our only chance of survival.”
Laura ran from the house and saw Lawrence drive off as she was pounding on a neighbour’s door.
The hearing was told she was the last person to see him alive. He was found dead in a hired motor home on the North York Moors near Scarborough by a police armed response team involved in the manhunt.
He was certified dead on January 14 but had probably been dead for two days from an overdose of painkillers and antidepressants.
Coroner Ian Sprakes recorded a conclusion of suicide.
He said: “It is clear to me after attacking and killing Shane Gilmer and attacking and injuring Laura Sugden he decided to take his own life.”
KNOWN TO COPS
The hearing was told Lawrence had been “in and out of bother with police” since childhood.
His parents has split up after his dad found his mother had been cheating on him.
His career in the Territorial Army ended when he was jailed for violence and he became a reclusive loner.
He snapped after using a bug to listen into conversations next door and found the couple had got him evicted for growing cannabis.
After the hearing, Laura said she would not be alive if Lawrence had not been fooled into thinking she was already dying.
She said: “He probably thought I would be dead soon after he left.”
The mum of two has launched a campaign to outlaw crossbows being sold over the counter.
She added: “The campaign is going very well. I am speaking to the Shadow Home Secretary this month, hoping for him to push for a meeting with Priti Patel.”
She gave birth to Shane’s third child Ella Faith in June 2018.
Laura and a male friend were the only people to attend the inquest.
She added: “The conclusion and facts were what I expected.”
View more information: https://www.the-sun.com/news/3061076/pregnant-woman-crossbow-bolt-neck-played-dead/